Arizona - Page 2
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On July 12th, the two
men appeared for sentencing. Martinez was sentenced to be hanged on
August 18, 1922, while Silvas was sentenced to life imprisonment in
penitentiary. Of the crime, Judge W.A. O’Connor said: "The crimes of
which you have been convicted are perhaps the cruelest ever committed
in Arizona. Let
the punishment that awaits you serve as a warning to others who may
contemplate the commission of similar crimes.”
But the drama was not
yet over. The next night Santa Cruz County Sheriff George White and
Deputy L. A. Smith loaded the prisoners into a car to take them to the
state penitentiary at Florence. But, before they reached their
destination, Pima County Sheriff Ben Daniels would receive a
disturbing phone call. The prisoner car had been found rolled over in a ditch near
Continental, Arizona. Near
the car the bodies of White and Smith were sprawled on the ground
with their skulls caved in. White was already dead but Smith was still
breathing and rushed to the hospital.
immediately began an investigation, finding a place about 200 feet
from the wreck where it appeared the prisoners had jumped from the
moving car. Nearby was a blood-stained wrench that had obviously been
used to bludgeon Officers White and Smith.
Lawmen, using dogs,
immediately began to pursue the
But it was raining and the dogs quickly lost the scent. The pursuit
was given up for the night but immediately resumed the next morning.
Following their trail over the Santa Rita Mountains, they lost it near
In the meantime,
Deputy Smith died without ever regaining consciousness. As the news
spread of a third double murder, area citizens were enraged and
volunteer posses poured in from Pinal, Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz
counties, who were sent out to scout the desert and guard
The dogs were brought
in once again, but were of no help. Five days after the convicts’
escape, some 700 men were combing the area in the most extensive
manhunt in the history of the entire Southwest.
Finally on the sixth
day, a blood-stained file was found, that authorities believed the
convicts had used to cut off their handcuffs. Immediately, the
lawmen were on the trail
again finally catching up with the pair who were hiding under brush in
the Tumacacori Mountains. Having run for over 70 miles of broken
country, they were raving with thirst and exhausted. Arrested once
again, they were first taken to Nogales before being quickly whisked
off again to the penitentiary. This time there would be no
escape for the two men.
On the date of his execution, Martinez was granted a last minute stay
of execution. As his appeals dragged on, they were finally exhausted
and he was sentenced to die once again on May 23, 1923.
In another desperate attempt, the Mexican Consul obtained a writ that
once again delayed Martinez’s execution. However the Supreme Court
intervened, quashed the writ and the killer was sentenced to die for
the last time. On August 10, 1923, Martinez was hanged.
Placido Silvas was sent to prison for
life. However, on December 3, 1928, he escaped from a State
Penitentiary work ranch and was never seen again.
In the meantime, the
town of Ruby, so drenched in blood, petitioned the U.S. War Department
for protection, which stamped out the threat of bandit raids. Ruby lived on, albeit quietly for the next
couple of years. Unbelievably, the store sold once again and was run
by a man named Worthington who operated it for a couple of years.
Placido Silvas escaped from prison and was never seen again. Photo
courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections.
Posse and Prisoners. Over 200 men pursued the Pearson’s
murderers after they escaped during transport to the prison in
Florence. Silvas and Martinez are in middle of the
back row. Photo courtesy Nogales Herald, July
was to see excitement again when the Eagle-Picher Lead Company bought
the mine. Leading to Ruby's most prosperous
period, the Eagle-Picher Lead Company brought in much improved
technology, hired some 300 men, built several dams for obtaining water, and the town boomed.
When the dams still did not provide enough water, the company built a
15 mile long pipe extending to the Santa Cruz Valley that lifted water
1,500 feet in two storage tanks. Before long, the town had electricity
provided by the company’s diesel engines, a doctor, an infirmary,
company stores, a school with three teachers instructing eight grades,
the ever present
some 2,000 residents. The mine ran 24 hours per day, only closing on
Christmas and July 4th.
From 1934 to 1937,
the Montana Mine was the leading producer of lead and zinc in the
state, and the third largest in silver production. However, the ore
finally played out in 1940 and the town became a ghost. The mill
operation was moved to Sahuarita. The post office closed forever on
May 31, 1941. Though no records exist on the dollar amount taken from
the Montana Mine, one estimate puts the total for the Oro Blanco
district at more than $10 million for the period between 1909 and
remained intact until 1970, until it finally collapsed. For decades,
the area remained private and because no access was allowed to anyone
other than owners, Ruby has suffered few of
the indignities of vandalism and theft often found in other
Today, Ruby remains
private, owned by a couple of different families who are working to
preserve the town and make it into a recreational area. The good news
is, they now allow visitors. The old settlement continues to boast
more than two dozen buildings. Only Vulture City rivals it in the
number of remaining structures in a
Some of the more
interesting structures remaining today include the school, which
continues to display its chalk boards and some furnishings; the jail,
mine offices, warehouse, head frame, the infirmary, and several homes.
Two small lakes created
by the dam remain shining blue against the
mountains and surrounded by sifting sands created from the many
tailings of the area. It’s a beach oasis in the middle of the desert.
Across the sand dunes is an old cemetery.
The hill behind the
warehouse is unsafe for hiking, as it is filled with collapsing mining
shafts below the ground. During the mining heyday, the main shaft
extended down some 700 feet with lateral bores heading out some 2,000
feet at various depths. Over the years, water erosion has added to the
instability and large cave-ins have occurred across the mountainside.
Work continues on the
town of Ruby to stabilize its remaining buildings that will continue
far into the future. A perimeter fence that has been erected around
the site has resulted in a noticeable improvement in the water quality
of Ruby's two small lakes, as cattle are prevented from entering the
site. Though the lake has never been stocked, it does provide some
fishing opportunities for as visitor s have pulled out blue gill,
catfish and large mouth bass.
A Colony of Mexican free tail bats,
numbering an estimated 1.5 million, makes their home in Ruby's
abandoned mine shafts from May to September. During the summer, it is
a sight to see as the emerge enmasse at sundown from the mine.
Looked after by an
on-site caretaker, the site can be accessed, as of this writing, only
Thursday through Sunday. After driving through the main
gate, stop at the caretaker’s house. There, an admission is
charged ($12.00 per person as of this writing,) a short oral history
and a map of the old settlement provided. Fishing and camping are also
allowed, also requiring a fee.
located about 30 miles west of Nogales and four miles north of the
Mexican border. To get there from Nogales, take I-19 north to Ruby
Road/AZ-289 West, exit 12. Follow 289 for some 10 miles before
arriving at the town site. Much of road is unpaved, winding, and can
be treacherous. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.
of America, updated April, 2017.
Arizona Ghost Town
More Ghost Towns of Arizona
Is Ruby Haunted?
See Next Page
It was through these very doors that the
bandits entered twice, leaving behind a
double murder each
time. Photo by Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints
A view inside the Ruby Mercantile today, Photo by Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints
Ghost Town Slideshow
All images are available for prints and
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Legends of America
- The Canyon State -
Arizona's storied past reaches back
thousands of years and you will enjoy it's tall mountain ranges, swift
rivers, grasslands, sand dunes, and cactus forests. Experience the many tales
Ghost Towns, Old West Forts,
and Route 66,
to interesting people including
Native Americans, and More.